We checked out a variety of free apps and these are the ones we liked the most…
LetterRoute is designed to help children develop their pre-writing skills. They can trace lines and shapes by using their fingers to push various vehicles along roads and paths. The shapes gradually get more complex, and they eventually progress to drawing numbers and letters.
We think this is a useful app for younger children who need to develop the fine motor skills needed for writing. However, it wasn’t obvious to us how you can move back to re-draw some of the letters and shapes using the app. Also, the app uses letter names rather than letter sounds and letter sounds are more important for early reading.
Nevertheless, the animations are engaging for young children and we think it should be helpful for most kids who try it.
Hairy Letters is an award-winning app that teaches letter sounds and shapes in a fun and engaging way through animated characters. The app allows you to trace the letter shapes onscreen with your finger. It also has simple games that introduce blending so children can develop the skills they need to read their first words.
The app is completely free to use, and you can access all of the letters although groups of letters are introduced in different stages. We think this is a great resource and we would definitely have used it if it had been around when our kids were younger.
You can watch a short video demonstration of the app below:
Writing Wizard – Learn Letters is a very good app in our opinion because you can choose different style fonts and trace various shapes or letters. However, you need to pay a fee to unlock all the letters. We think the fee is quite reasonable though (less than $5 at the time of writing), so you might want to try the free version to see how your child gets on with it.
There’s a video demonstration of the app below:
The Jolly Phonics Lessons App has a wide variety of useful features and can be used by teachers or parents to provide activities and lesson plans for each of the 42 letters sounds. Jolly Phonics is an established company that specialises in phonics resources and their programme has been shown to be effective in studies.
Although it’s designed for teachers, the features are also useful for parents teaching or supporting their kids at home:
- Letter sounds audio for all the sounds.
- All the Jolly songs for each letter sound.
- Animated letter formation.
- Action image and instructions.
- Word bank and flashcards.
- Assessment tests.
- A selection of interactive games.
The free version only provides access to a limited number of letters, but it allows you to evaluate whether the fee for the full version (around $10 at the time of writing) is worth it. We think the fee is quite reasonable given the quality of the resource; however, this will depend on your personal budget.